FIVE FAVOURITES: Party Fears

The creator of some of our favourite DIY art-pop tunes over the last few years, Party Fears (aka Maggie Devlin) has shared her new single, ‘All Is Good’. Released via Babywoman Records, it’s a tender, lo-fi offering that explores feelings of loss, nostalgia and emotional endurance.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Maggie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have influenced her song writing techniques. In true Party Fears style, Maggie has put her own spin on the feature, and has shared five songs that are “good for pretending you’re in a film” to. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch the video for ‘All Is Good’ (spoiler: it’s got a cute dog in it.)

 

1. Duran Duran – ‘Ordinary World’
This song is in pole position on my list both because of the soaring eloquence of its melody and also because of those hyperbolic yet ethereal lyrics that seemed to permeate the 80s, like everyone was constantly carolling epic ditties for the sake of humanity: “I will learn to survive!” We could do with an epic 80s ditty or two about now, to be honest. Musically, there are a few highlights for me. The double tracking or echo on the main vocal, and the snare that nails things down so they don’t get too lofty. The backing vocals are ace. Then at around the three minute mark, Le Bon starts wailing in very cinematic fashion. This is the moment you could stop walking, perhaps, and look up through the rain. Wear a denim jacket with very deep pockets and get the hands shoved in there for effect. There’s also a nice moment where the synth/strings crescendo at about 3.46. Start running here. Very nice.

2. Kate Bush – ‘This Woman’s Work’
Gentle banger. Twin notes, bright on the piano and sparsely played, coax us into the song. This is followed by Bush’s airy howling before she goes right for the throat with the opening lyric, “Pray God, you can cope.” There’s no messing: she’s telling us from the top that she’s here to kick the fuck out of your tear ducts. The warm wash of backing vocals, the melodic acrobatics, how the voices deliver every “t” on “I know you’ve got a little life in you yet”, demonstrate expert precision intended to wound the listener in the most sublime way. The song is best enjoyed while you play back an imagined break up in your head, preferably in sepia tones. Make sure there’s someone on a swing, smiling as they glide through the air. Your hands pressed to absent cheeks, awash with tears. And at least one teddy bear dropped into a puddle. At the climax, why not go to a park and grab your hair and spin round in some leaves.

3. Skunk Anansie – ‘Secretly’
What’s more filmic than loads of jabby, dramatic strings straight from the top?! Who cares if what they play has nothing to do with the song? By the time you’ve realised, the bass tones have already kicked in; rippling across your headphones, anchoring the Bond-like guitar. Then there’s Skin’s vocal. I remember being so impressed that she sang in her own accent. She clips tightly through the verses before opening things up on the pre-chorus. Then the chorus launches, strings and guitar chimes and long vocal notes drawn agonised but perfect: “You wanna do someone else, so you should be by yourself.” And then there’s that bridge and the hanging note… Ooft! For this song, consider wearing a very long black coat and synthesise some spooky green light with a nice LED colour-changing bulb (by remote control so you can still look cool). It is very important that you powerfully grab the air when lip-syncing to the chorus. Shoulder movements will also be very important here.

4. Placebo – ‘Pure Morning’
Okay, so in order to fully appreciate this one, you will unfortunately have to commit a crime of some kind, but fear not! The fabric of society is quickly coming apart and it’s unlikely that if you commit a little heist for the sake of living out your OST dreams, there’ll even be a police force to catch you! From the awkward, stabbing guitar at the very top to the tinny, relentless drums and Brian Molko’s nasal whining, this song is excellent for walking somewhere with enormous purpose. If you can arrange for a glint of sunlight to cut across the air in front of you, maybe even a little gust of wind blowing your hair/coat/scarf back, this is even better. When we reach the refrain, ‘Pure morning’ it’s time to take that briefcase you’ve stolen and just throw it over a bridge. Make sure you achieve a wide arc or it will not have the same effect. Job done? Now it’s time to walk into the city and bump shoulders with pathetic normies who don’t know how dangerous and cool you are.

5. Brenda Fassie – ‘Vuli Ndlela’
This is easily one of my favourite songs. Themed on her son getting married, Vuli Ndlela opens with churchy organs and Brenda Fassie’s confident and gorgeously clear vocal. When the arpeggiator starts, we know the song is going to be a joyful, summery banger. Building and building with brushy drums and a warm bass line, the main melody repeats, the song getting richer and richer all the while, whether with further instrumentation (those backing vocals) or Fassie’s modulation. This is the song where you and your gang (adorned with lots of flowing, colourful things) dance off your previous cares, but not before you exchange a meaningful glance with your bestie over the top of those opening organ notes though. The door to the dance hall bangs open and light spills through. You all race outside, run down a grassy little hill and jump in a lake! Now you’re wet and laughing and someone is wearing a silly hat. There’s that villainous person from before, but it’s okay now; they’ve changed and they are dancing too. It’s okay! Everything is okay! There is no virus and Emma Thompson is president!

Follow Party Fears on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Marlene Thissen

LIVE: Kælan Mikla – Electrowerkz, London 19.02.19

Having been hand selected by The Cure’s Robert Smith to support Placebo at Southbank’s Meltdown Festival in the summer of 2018, it was no surprise to see Icelandic darkwave trio Kælan Mikla perform to a near capacity crowd at Electrowerkz on Wednesday night.

Presented by Bad Vibrations, the evening began with a performance from newcomer Some Ember (aka Dylan Travis). Clad in a silver shirt and metallic make-up, Travis shared his classic 808, Cold Cave-esque sounds with energy and enthusiasm, before Kælan Mikla took to the stage to deliver a set full of brooding electronic dissonance.

Together, Sólveig Matthildur (synths/keys), Laufey Soffía (vocals) and Margrét Rósa (bass) created a coven-esque atmosphere with their layered drum beats, pulverizing synths, powerful vocal delivery – and a burning stick of incense held by lead vocalist Laufey. A mix of spoken word, angsty screams and extended notes, Laufey’s voice echoed around the venue with poetic prowess. Singing in her native Icelandic tongue, the mood of each of Kælan Mikla’s songs translated clearly – whether listeners were fluent in the language or not.

Despite their darkwave roots, the trio’s live delivery had a gentle pop energy, aided by their animated movements and a colourful light show. Whilst their performance was still haunting and immersive, the chemistry between Matthildur, Soffía and Rósa clearly lightened the mood. After returning for a brief encore – Laufey with incense in hand again – the band left the stage to the sound of rapturous and appreciative applause. A bewitching, indulgent live experience: Kælan Mikla’s set is a beguiling blur of post-punk, gothic noise that ensnares the senses.

Follow Kælan Mikla on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: June 2018

We’re mid-way through 2018, and we’re ready to share another playlist packed with fresh new sounds for your very eager ears! Take some time to scroll through our track selections, hit play on the Spotify link below, and let your ears fill up with the glorious new sounds of June…

Fever Ray – ‘If I Had A Heart’
Fever Ray were one of the headliners of Field Day this year and it could not have been a better end to the festival, hypnotic beats, terrifyingly warped vocals and an explosive stage performance. Gender bending outfits, with reverberating sound all whipped up together by the psychedelic and endorphin inducing visuals. When this track started I lost my mind – wow wow wow. (Tash Walker)

Catgod – ‘Keep My Promises’
Lead by sibling duo Robin and Catherine, Catgod’s new single interweaves swirling folk-tinged melodies with trip-hop inspired beats. As Robin’s soaring vocals are perfectly complemented by Cat’s exquisite harmonies, it showcases the band’s unique musicality in a cinematic soundscape that’ll captivate on first listen. Heartbeat In My Hand, the debut EP from Catgod, is out 22nd June. (Mari Lane)

Dott – ‘Bleached Blonde’
Galway’s Dott have released the perfect single for girls who love sunshine, surfing, and super-catchy garage pop anthems. The track is taken from their upcoming album Heart Swell, which is set to be released via Graveface Records on 8th June. It’s not on Spotify yet, but you can watch the video for it below. (Kate Crudgington)

S4U – ‘Heart’
‘Heart’ is the latest single London-based duo S4U (Something For You) taken from their upcoming Mixtape Heart 2 Say, which will be released via Different Recordings on 6th July. Looking forward to that a lot… I’m loving S4U’s new low-slung R&B experimental electro with some heavy 90s influences. Of the track S4U says “Curved, Parallel conscious, sub conscious, the synergy of heart and mind generates wise choices that benefit all. In other words as you appreciate that which is appreciating you. It is a wonderful thing to hold someone as your object of attention while you feel that G force Roses in Britain” Lovely. (TW)

The Menstrual Cramps – ‘Make Girls Feel Good’
Combining activism with musical prowess, The Menstrual Cramps provide a captivating force that we all need now more than ever.  With their fist-clenching ferocity, racing catchy hooks and a tongue in cheek wit, they create truly infectious punk-rock anthems. And this track is no exception – an epic dose of empowering energy, with lyrics like “you always look like such perfection that you don’t even need to try”, it’ll leave you feeling good and ready to take on the world. And we CANNOT WAIT to see The Menstrual Cramps headline for us at The Finsbury on Friday(ML) 

Slowcoaches – ‘Found Down’
Having previously captured our hearts with the totally epic, anti-toxic-masculinity anthem ‘Complex’, Slowcoaches are back with a new single. Racing with a seething energy, ‘Found Down’ hits your ears with its scuzzy riffs and the raw, angst-driven vocals of Heather Perkins. Oozing an immense, punk-fuelled power, it’s a perfect blast of raging honesty that we need now more than ever. (ML)

Placebo – ‘Scared Of Girls’
I scored tickets to Placebo’s Meltdown gig at Southbank Centre (curated by Robert Smith) and although this will be the fourth time I’ve seen them (quit bragging Kate), my heart is still beating double time with joy at the prospect of potentially hearing this track live. I imagine this song title accurately describes how most men feel when they see me dancing to it on a night out… (KC)

The Joy Formidable – ‘Dance Of The Lotus’
This is the band responsible for getting me in to alternative music a decade ago, so when I heard new single ‘Dance Of The Lotus’, my inner 18 year old imploded. They’re playing Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival on the same day as NIN, and they’ll be playing at one of my favourite venues, The Lexington, in August. I missed out on tickets for both, so if anyone wants to help a girl out…I write good reviews… (KC)

Hilary Woods – ‘Inhaler’
‘Inhaler’ is the first single from Hilary Woods’ upcoming debut solo album Colt, which is set to be released via my favourite label Sacred Bones Records on 8th June. It’s a pensive, delicate, melancholy track about her struggles with homesickness, and it’s going to sound beautiful live when ringing out against the walls of St Pancras Old Church on 11th June. (KC)

VTR – ‘Soul To Skin’
‘Soul To Skin’ is taken from Brixton duo VTR’s recently released EP of the same name via Dream Diary. So sultry, so smooth, so seductive. This track reverberates around my ears giving me so much audible pleasure, very excited to hear more from these two in the future. (TW)

Barrie – ‘Tal Uno’
The new single from Brooklyn’s Barrie, ‘Tal Uno’ is filled with jangly hooks and swooning vocals, creating a totally dreamy, twinkling soundscape. As glistening synth-filled melodies glide alongside glitchy beats, it’s impossible not to float away in the shimmering, psychedelic haze that Barrie create. (ML)

ELA Lindsey – ‘Healing Me Slow’
This is the debut track from Nashville’s singer-songwriter ELA Lindsey who found her musical passion later in life starting at the age of 29. She says that by releasing this single she hopes to inspire other women to start their artistic journeys later than the typical industry standard usually allows. ‘Healing Me Slow’ has been firmly stuck in my head over the last couple of weeks, starting with her sweet and gentle vocals, then breaking down into this dark electro synth laden TUNE. With all the hooks and loops I could ever want. INTO IT. (TW)

Tigercats – ‘Candy’s Tailor’
Tigercats’ new single ‘Candy’s Tailor’ is filled with twinkling, jangly melodies and uptempo, calypso-like beats. Flowing with raw vocals and rich layers of sound, it’s an utterly uplifting summer anthem, and I’m already getting pretty excited about seeing these guys at Indietracks Festival next month! Pig City, the new album from Tigercats, is out now. (ML)

Nine Inch Nails – ‘Ringfinger’
I only discovered the true glory of NINs last year (always late to the party, when will I learn?) but I’m seeing Trent Reznor & co twice this month – at Meltdown Festival & The Royal Albert Hall – and I am nerve-shreddingly excited. ‘Ringfinger’ is one of my favourite tracks on 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine, and although they’re unlikely to play it live – I’ll still be bouncing off the walls in anticipation leading up to the gigs. (KC)

Photo Credit: Slowcaoches shot by Priti Shikotra